More on and off the buses

Aberdeenshire Council’s transportation team says it is pushing forward with technological innovations and projects across the north-east to improve public transport information for all.

A Real Time Passenger Information system, on-bus information and roadside display improvements using new technology are all being introduced or developed.

An agreement has also been reached with First Aberdeen and Stagecoach Bluebird to maintain roadside timetable displays in Aberdeen City.

This means Aberdeenshire Council will have responsibility for timetable displays at around 1,200 more bus-stops in the north-east.

It already has over 1,200 displays at bus stops in Aberdeenshire, around 80% of the authority’s bus stops.

Chairman of Aberdeenshire Council’s Infrastructure Services Committee, Peter Argyle, said: “We are seeking to provide a consistent, uniform and high standard of bus stop information displays across City and Shire, following a request from bus operators.

“Rolling out the expertise we’ve gained in Aberdeenshire across the area should help those travelling within the city bounds to plan and make journeys more effectively and with more confidence.

“Through the use of technology and by speaking to passengers and consulting with them on transportation issues, we hope public transport is an increasingly attractive option for those who don’t use it, and easier and more accessible for those who do.”

Across Aberdeenshire and Aberdeen City “pearl bars” are being introduced to the stop displays, to provide a graphical indication of route and approximate journey times for each bus service using the stop.

For users of smartphones, QR codes (Quick Recognition) and NFC tags (Near Field Communication) are also being rolled out to the roadside displays, providing customers with more information than can be shown on the display.

This technology will be linked to the Traveline Scotland ‘NextBus’ service and the council’s proposed Real Time Passenger Information (RTPI) system and will allow people to access actual, as opposed to scheduled, arrival times for buses from that bus stop.

The rollout of improved passenger information continues with the introduction at key Aberdeenshire Interchange locations of new displays to improve information for those undertaking more complex journeys.

It will include a simple map of the immediate area, principal destinations served and a list of all routes serving the interchange, complementing standard timetables.

This will allow customers to more easily identify routes and destinations available at that interchange and where to board their bus.

Interactive journey kiosks already in place at the transport interchanges have been updated to expand functionality and the level of information provided.

These will also be linked to the proposed RTPI system, at which time actual arrival and departure times will be displayed.

Passengers can also now browse the Aberdeenshire Council website at the kiosks, including information on towns, tourist destinations, parks and local events.